Codelco Miners to Begin Strike after Failing to Reach Consensus

3 January 2010 (Last Updated January 3rd, 2010 18:30)

Miners at Codelco's Chile-based Chuquicamata mine are expected to begin a strike for the first time in 13 years after they failed to reach an agreement on bonuses. Codelco miners have demanded more pay following BHP Billiton's decision to provide its northern Chile-based Escondida miner

Miners at Codelco's Chile-based Chuquicamata mine are expected to begin a strike for the first time in 13 years after they failed to reach an agreement on bonuses.

Codelco miners have demanded more pay following BHP Billiton's decision to provide its northern Chile-based Escondida miners with a CLP14m one-time bonus in October.

Codelco had proposed to give its miners a CLP11.5m bonus, which was subsequently rejected by the workers on 22 December as they were buoyed by soaring copper prices.

Codelco said it is aware of the hardships faced by miners, however, it considers CLP11.5m a huge sum in a country where the average salary is less than CLP500,000.

Last month more than 4,000 miners held a blockade at the 1,000m deep mine, causing a 1,820 metric tonne loss in terms of copper output as production was suspended for one day.

The Chuquicamata mine, which is the second biggest in the world, is part of the company's Norte division.